Directory Page Title

Joan Gavaler

Co-Artistic Director of Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre/Professor and Director of W&M Dance

Office: Adair Hall 401
Email: [[jsgava]]
Phone: (757) 221-2785
Website: {{}}
Website: {{}}



Areas of Specialization

Dance choreography and performance, theatre choreography and movement direction, Alexander Technique, Contact Improvisation, physical theatre


Joan Gavaler has a career as both an independent performer/choreographer and as an educator.  She relishes the creative process and collaborative discovery in making new work. To further that interest, she co-founded Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre in 2013. The company has toured the east coast, southern, and midwest United States and plans a return to the Kimball Theatre, Williamsburg, VA in May 2017.

Professor Gavaler has received accolades for both choreography and teaching including being named AAHPERD Distinguished Guest Artist and receiving the W&M Alumni Society Award for Teaching Excellence. Since 1987 Joan has created over 50 original works and has been the driving force behind four professional companies.  She received multiple project grants for Gavaler Danceworks (1990-1996) and Aura Curiatlas (2013-present), most recently from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Williamsburg Area Arts Commision, and York County Arts Commission.  She has collaborated with poets, composers, musicians, visual artists, actors, directors, acrobats, and physicists and been invited by over 40 dance and theatre organizations to present work and teach in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including a two-week residency at Beijing Normal University in 2013.

Students value the supportive and challenging atmosphere she creates in the classroom and the thoughtful guidance she provides as a mentor.  She has taught collaboratively with colleagues and has developed new courses including History of American Vernacular Dance, Contact Improvisation and Partnering Principles, Alexander Technique, and Introduction to Physical Theatre in addition to teaching dance composition, modern, and ballet technique and mentoring undergraduate choreographers and theatre artists.  Her expertise has been sought for external program and faculty reviews, performance adjudication, and board memberships in professional organizations.  She served as Department Chair for Theatre, Speech, and Dance from 2009-2014.

Current Courses

Dance Composition I and II, Alexander Technique, Physical Theatre, all levels of modern and ballet technique

Student Advising

Dance Minors, Performance Ensemble, William & Mary Theatre, Interdisciplinary Studies